Racist reactions after young man dies on quad

Various Flemish politicians, including the Flemish premier Geert Bourgeois, have expressed their disbelief and disgust after the death of a boy of Moroccan descent triggered a wave of racist reactions on social media. The 15-year-old from Genk (Limburg) died in a quad accident while he was on holiday in Morocco.

The Flemish Media Minister Sven Gatz (liberal) is angry. He said that those welcoming the boy's death, are sick and should receive psychological help.

"These people should receive help but they can't be helped/won't accept help", Gatz said. He calls the posts - which are mostly made under a false name - "disgusting" and adds they show "a sickening kind of racism".

The racist posts were numerous: "If that's a Fleming, then I'm a negro" or "Flemings can nowadays be anything", or "probably bought the quad with drugs money". Others were making jokes on the boy's death. Some said "another brown one less" or "a pity there weren't two on the quad, hahaha". Posting racist messages is against the law in Belgium and may lead to legal proceedings.

However, there were also many reactions of support to the family and friends of the boy, with people expressing their condolences.

"A long way to go"

Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) said that the racist messages show that "there is still a lot of work to be done to reach an inclusive society and shared citizenship. People using that kind of language, had better look in the mirror."

Burgomaster Wim Dries of Genk, where the victim Ramzi Mohammed Kaddouri lived, is angry. "This is beyond imagination. We can't just leave this at that." However, he also points to the fact that many social media users are expressing their condolences and showing their sympathy for the boy's family.

The Flemish Asylum Secretary Theo Francken says that those laughing at someone's death, are sick in the head. Youssef Kobo, who works for the Flemish Christian democrats of CD&V, collected some of the reactions on his Twitter account and feels like throwing in the towel: "That's it, I give up".